a lovely old quilt and freestyle piecing

lovely old quilt

Quilt is a generous description – it was really more of a duvet and it has come all undone. I made it 20 years ago – the year I moved to Brooklyn. I love quilts and live with lots of them in various states of disrepair. This one has been at the bottom of a trunk for the last ten years.  I’m not sure what made me think of it – I’ve been looking at quilts a lot lately – I have some collected on Pinterest and I’ve been making boats with some pieces of old quilt tops.  The boat below is made from a tattered top with hundreds of different little pieces – it’s like a library of fabulous depression era small prints.

patchwork boat

sailboat sewing pattern

My old quilt top is missing huge sections so I’m going to take it apart and rearrange everything in a new way and add some sections of pieced scraps. I did some tests and found  the freestyle piecing to be way more difficult than I had imagined. I do love the idea though of turning my giant supply of beloved little scraps into something I use everyday. The little and more subdued sample on the right is the beginning of something that might make it into my  repair. The kookier experiment on the left might become a doll.  It will be a slow summer project  and maybe by next winter I’ll be ready to turn it into an official quilt.

freestyle patchwork

fabric sail boats

In other news – the boat pattern is finished and  in the shop.  Make a sweet spring regatta!


  1. Hi Ann,
    I love quilts too and tend to sew them by hand rather than use a machine, the fabric seems to become much softer when I’m sewing it between my fingers….I don’t like rushing them, they take as long as they take. I know I’ll never be able to make masses of them because they take time, but that’s fine, I’m not interested in “weekend makes” and am happy to spend the time when and where it can be found making slow stitches.

  2. Hello, Ann — I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Lord-ah-mercy, I do love to look your apartment. So cozy and dreamy.

    Myself, I like wonkiness & asymmetry in quilts that are hand pieced. It’s so freeing. Machine work is sometimes needed for practical reasons or strength of seams, but hand sewing in my lap is always my first love and choice. I think it’s a way of connecting to our women ancestors in a very primal, tactile way. This post has inspired me to embark on the revival of an old quilt top I’ve had stowed away in a trunk. It’s made of early-to-mid-century calico prints, small and cheery, and was hand-tied with pink wool yarn. I have no idea who made it – I rescued it from a bottom shelf stack of thrift shop linens. I knew there was no way I could leave it there. Just no way.

    Have a glorious time with your new project!

  3. Penny Baugh

    What a marvelous find – at the bottom of the trunk. I just love the boats made from quilt scraps and am looking forward to the pattern next week. It has all sorts of possibilities! Thank you for a lovely posting — I love having this glimpse into your life and art.

  4. Liz Calais

    Hi there Ann, I enjoy receiving your news. To refresh your memory – I took your botanical class at the Squam Retreat in September a couple of years ago (it was your first teaching experience there). I saved some okra pods for you after that retreat and still have them. Didn’t have your address then, but now I do and I can mail these pods to you. Thought you might enjoy creating something like them. Okra is very common down here in southern Louisiana. I’ll send you my email address in the package of okra 🙂
    Hope all is well with you. Your home, as always, is so inviting and cozy. I would love to visit with you sometime and you certainly are invited to visit with me down south. I have a new home as of this past January. It’s a precious 1930s cottage in a small village and, the best part is that it has a large room for my studio. I’m so excited!
    Please keep in touch. I enjoyed spending time with you in NH. Send me some pictures of your experiences up there and I’ll send you some of southern experiences. How interesting, well I think, that could be 🙂
    Take care and many Blessings to you! Liz from Louisiana

  5. Lovely Ann,
    Quilting and patchwork has made such a HUGE comeback and it sucked me right in. I just took an improv class with Sherri Lynn Wood who has terrific. Her book has all sorts of ways to work with piecing like this. I bet you would like her!
    XXOO Cat

  6. I remember years ago making a quilt with my mom and realized how hard it was! We were making a very square-ish one where all of the pieces were to be measured exactly and what a nightmare! I think if I ever attempted one again it would be A: smaller and B: not so percise…maybe like a crazy quilt.
    Love your work and your blog!!

  7. Hey! Just want to make sure I haven’t missed the posting yet 🙂 I’ve been stalking the site all day lol. Will it be in the make something category?

  8. I make hand quilts and Im a lot like Ericka ,it takes as long as it takes ….its about the joy of stitching .
    Last year ,when my scrap stash got way out of hand I made a travellers blanket hoping to use my stash faster …helped a bit with the stash but I got so much fun from the stitching I kind of went over board.
    Check Pinterest for images of travellers blankets ….an Australian girl coined the name .
    These blankets are great for anyone who doesn’t like piecing a quilt together.

  9. F. Humphreys

    My old dead sewing teachers would turn over in their grave, inspecting my mended items…. I went to a four year home ec school in the ’50-60’s in the netherlands. We had to do the most tiny, precise, steady stitches, matching colors or stripes etc. It had to look perfect on BOTH sides and could not unravel in the wash. I still have all my projects from long ago and should put them in a binder, they ll be museum worthy one day. I m so elated i can do free-range mending now, still love doing it, even darning my wool winter socks. I get a steady supply of stuff that needs to be repaired, from my children and grand children, even a hole in the mesh of a sneaker, or the zipper of a bookbag. I ll try to do it all. Greetings, f

  10. Jody Mellenthin

    I am crazy about your works and the glimpses of your work space. I make many quilt tops, but like to handquilt them, so it takes a long time to bring one to completion. The slow stitching is my meditation, my joy.

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